Inquiry into the Tasmanian Industrial Hemp Industry
The Committee finds that the evidence received from hemp industry participants shows that the most lucrative market for industrial hemp is its use in food products.
The ban on the use of hemp in food is impeding the development of the industrial hemp industry in Tasmania.
Evidence provided by industry participants indicates there may potentially be viable hemp fibre based value-adding opportunities for Tasmanian growers.
There are issues with the economies of scale required to commercialise hemp fibre value-adding opportunities.
Growth of hemp fibre value-adding opportunities should be left to the market. There is unlikely to be a viable industrial hemp industry in Tasmania unless restrictive regulatory impediments are removed.
The removal of regulatory impediments would potentially allow the industry to develop and expand in an organic way, based on market forces.
There should be as few regulatory restrictions as possible.
The current licensing system for industrial hemp, including the licence conditions imposed, is onerous and unnecessarily restrictive, thereby imposing additional costs and stifling industry development.
The licensing system should be simplified so that industrial hemp crops are treated similarly to other farm crops.
The allowable THC content in grown plant material in Tasmania should be 1%, from hemp seed certified to produce plants with no more than 0.5% THC.
Industrial hemp below the threshold of 1% THC in grown plant material should be removed from regulation under the Poisons Act 1971 and the Misuse of Drugs Act 2001.
The Committee finds that the Federal Government should consider the removal of low THC industrial hemp from Schedule 9 of the Standard for the Uniform Scheduling of Medicines and Poisons.
From the evidence available, there are no public health and safety reasons why low THC hemp should not be approved for use in food.
The Legislative and Governance Forum on Food Regulation should accept the recommendation made by FSANZ, which recommends that it be permitted and concludes there are no public health and safety reasons for continuing the ban on the use of low THC hemp in food.
SUMMARY OF RECOMMENDATIONS
Recommendation 1 The Committee recommends that the State Government lobby the Legislative and Governance Forum on Food Regulation for the removal of the ban on the use of low THC hemp in food.
Recommendation 2 The Committee recommends that a simpler regulatory regime be introduced, for example, one that is a notification/registration system, where a grower simply registers on a database where and when the grower intends to grow a low THC industrial hemp crop, and pays a levy to cover the costs of random testing of industrial hemp crops for THC levels.
Recommendation 3 The Committee recommends, as part of a new, streamlined notification/registration system, that restrictions on where industrial hemp crops can be grown be removed.
Recommendation 4 The Committee recommends that the Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water and Environment be given responsibility for regulating the industry.
Recommendation 5 The Committee recommends that the allowable THC content in grown material in Tasmania should be 1%, from hemp seed certified to produce plants with no more than 0.5% THC.
Recommendation 6 The Committee recommends that there should be a consistent THC threshold for low THC industrial hemp across all Australian jurisdictions, that being the upper limit of 1% in grown plant material, grown from seed stock certified to produce plants containing no more than 0.5% THC content.
Recommendation 7 The Committee recommends that low THC industrial hemp (that is industrial hemp containing not more than 1% THC) should be removed from regulation under the Poisons Act 1971 and should not be subject to the Misuse of Drugs Act 2001.
Recommendation 8 The Committee recommends that low THC industrial hemp that meets or is below the allowable THC threshold should not be regulated under the Poisons Act 1971 and should not be subject to the Misuse of Drugs Act 2001.
Recommendation 9 The Committee recommends that the State Government investigate (as part of the simplified grower notification/registration system recommended above) the potential of a simpler testing regime, whereby growers pay a small levy to fund the random testing of a percentage of the total Tasmanian industrial hemp crop.